Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Rejoice with those who rejoice. Easier said than done.

Do you ever find it hard to be happy for people when good things happen to them? I do.

Someone gets a promotion and instead of being happy for them I’m envious. A friend’s child gets an award and jealousy is my first reaction instead of joy.

Why can’t I just be happy when good things happen to people?  Why can’t I just “rejoice with those who rejoice?” Why do these feelings of resentment set in? It seems to happen a lot to me, and I don’t like it. I wish I could find an answer, and a recent experience may have provided one.

I am a huge baseball fan. I grew up near Boston and, even though I’ve lived in Texas for over 30 years, my heart has always been with the Boston Red Sox. They didn’t do well this past year at all. In fact, they finished in last place.

The Texas Rangers won the World Series this year for the very first time. I’m not a Rangers fan but I found myself rejoicing with my friends who are. On the night they won the Series I was texting my Ranger fan friends congratulating them. I went on social media and messaged more congratulations to my online Ranger fan friends. I was rejoicing with those who rejoice. And I wondered why. Normally I would be resentful. Normally I would be jealous. What was happening to me?

And a thought dawned on me.

My beloved Red Sox have won 4 World Series since they broke an 86-year championship drought in 2004. More than that, the first 20 years of this century have provided a glut of championships for Boston sports fans. The Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots – all my favorites – have brought more sport’s joy in those two decades than a city deserves. As a Boston sport’s fan “my cup runneth over.”  

Maybe I was able to rejoice with those Ranger fans because I have been so blessed.

Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe that’s why sometimes I have a hard time “rejoicing with those who rejoice.” Maybe I’m not as aware of my blessings as I would like to think I am. And maybe if I could just be more thankful, I could be more happy for the good fortune of others. Maybe that’s the secret. If that’s true for baseball, shouldn’t it be true always?

As a forgiven child of God in line to inherit eternal life you would think I would be protected from resentment, envy, and jealousy. And I believe it will. So, I’m learning to rejoice in my salvation more and more knowing that as I bask in the joy of grace I will be free from those life-stealing vices and become a person who can genuinely celebrate when the other person gets a win.

God has showered me with a glut of forgiveness, mercy, and grace – far more than I deserve. “My cup runneth over” and when that becomes my focus I can’t help but rejoice.